The Wing Luke Museum in Seattle strives to accomplish one goal in all of its endeavors - connect people with Asian Pacific American history.

The lessons and stories of the past have always mattered in the United States. Sometimes, they are overlooked. Still, they are important and relevant.

The Wing – as it’s known – is undertaking a rolling history project, of sorts, with this summer’s Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West. It includes stops at historic sites in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. The last trip of its kind was in 1994.

The trip kicks off this evening in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District with an exploration of food once eaten by Chinese American pioneers. On Tuesday, participants board a bus.

We invite you to visit this blog and our Twitter feed throughout the week to get glimpses into the trip and see what participants are experiencing as history appears before their eyes.

This journey will retrace the steps that early Chinese pioneers took on U.S. soil starting in the 19th century – steps, for example, that occurred inside the East Kong Yick Building, a hotel and meeting place in what was once the core of Seattle’s Chinatown. In Oregon, participants will step inside an herb doctor’s office and walk the places where Chinese Americans searched for gold and good fortune. 

The Wing is partnering with the USDA Forest Service – which has given generous support for the trip. Many of the places where trip participants will stop sit on federal land.

Forest Service Supervisor Dale Hom will travel on the tour bus and give an overview of many of the historic sites.

Other Forest Service employees, including archaeologists, will give context and background. So, too, will professors, historians and other regional specialists.

About 40 people, ranging from youths who are first-generation Chinese Americans to those who have the wisdom of decades, will join this tour. Some have waited 16 years for this trip after hearing about the first journey.

Most live in the Seattle area. Some, though, are coming from California. Some are traveling as far away as New York City and Virginia.

Of course, a virtual look at the Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West might only whet your curiosity.

As you follow along online, you can post comments and ask questions. We’ll try and get answers as soon as possible.

On this blog, we’ll also try and get participants to give first-hand observations and insights. We’ll keep the tone engaging, informative.

Feel free to tell your friends.

Some youths are planning to write about the trip and their reactions for the International Examiner, a Seattle newspaper that covers Northwest Asian American communities.

In life, though, there is no substitute for experiencing the real thing yourself.

Smell can evoke childhood memories. Photographs of Chinese pioneers – who sailed the Pacific Ocean from China centuries ago – might remind you of elders you’ve seen in U.S. cities, both large and small.

Standing inside a building or in a field and looking face-to-face at an item that a Chinese pioneer used to maintain a livelihood or think of home in the American West can make you nod in recognition.

To that end, The Wing will launch a more comprehensive travel site in the coming months for those of you who want to get out under the sun and retrace a heritage tour that is unlike any other.

Why the American West?

As we know, people arrived decades ago from the U.S. East Coast. They also moved from other places, including countries across the Pacific Ocean.

As the Museum has noted:

Early Chinese immigrants to the United States were one of the largest sources of labor and support for developing settlements in America’s West starting in the 19th century.

Living in the past all the time might not always benefit your present-day life.

But acknowledging the people who have gone before you and appreciating their contributions can do wonders in helping you know who you are and what others – including relatives, neighbors and friends – have endured and achieved.

These stories - whether they’re big-picture or nuanced moments - can stay with you for a lifetime. They can be passed to future generations.

In that sense, this heritage tour is more than just a week on the road.

It will be more like a museum without walls.